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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Classification  of Languages         201

navzs,   a ship                              navay,     ships

navzs,   of a ship                          navtum,  of the ships

to a ship                          r&vibus, to the ships

Enghsh equivalents for different case-forms of the Latin for a ship or
ships* as printed above, are those given in text-books, and the truth is
that text-books conceal the worst from the beginner Correct choice of
case-endings in a typical amalgamating language does not always depend
on whether the Enghsh equivalent would have a particle such as of or to
in front of it The Latin case-ending is much more versatile than in the
corresponding Magyar one The dattve navi turns up m many situations
where we cannot translate it by to a ship, and there is no simple rule
which tells us what ending to tack on a Latin noun in one of several
dative situations Compare, for instance, the following with the pre-
ceding examples
porta,     a gate                          portal,      gates
portae,   of a gate                      portarwra, of the gates
portae,   to a gate                      portzs,       to the gates
Comparison of the case-forms of these two nouns emphasizes the
irregularity of derivatives in an amalgamating language Though English
is no longer an amalgamating language and is now remarkably regular
in comparison with its nearest neighbours, there is no single way in
which the plural of all Enghsh nouns is formed, and there is no single
way in which the past of all Enghsh verbs is formed We can arrange
Enghsh nouns in families like man-mouse or pan-house, according to the
way in which we derive their plural forms, and verbs in families such as
sing-dnnk, thirik-bnng> hve-bdkes according to the way in which we
derive the past tense In a typical amalgamating language we have to
reckon with many noun families (declensions) and many verb families
(conjugations) Each declension has its own type of case- as well as
plural-formation. Each conjugation has its own way of building person
time, mood, and voice derivatives
The two most characteristic features which distinguish languages of
the amalgamating from languages of the agglutinating type may there-
fore be summed up in this way Amalgamating languages have many
derivatives arbitrarily chosen by custom in situations connected by no
common thread of meaning, and many different ways of forming the
derivative appropriate to a single context in accordance with meaning
or conventional usage The table manners of an agglutinating language
are unassuming You use a spoon because a spoon is the tool appro-